The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

 |  Drama, Sport  |  8 October 1962 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,356 users  
Reviews: 51 user | 35 critic

A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs... See full summary »



(screenplay), (short story)
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview:
Avis Bunnage ...
Mrs. Smith
Joe Robinson ...
Dervis Ward ...
Topsy Jane ...
Julia Foster ...


A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Sport


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Release Date:

8 October 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rebel with a Cause  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Walter Lassally: "That was the only time I worked with Michael Redgrave, who is a lovely man. Super, he's one of those typical Englishman, you know, super polite and a very good actor, but very low-key. I think he was perfectly cast in that as the headmaster of the borstal. See more »


When the boys are doing gardening work one character calls another "you mug" (meaning gullible idiot). This is incorrectly recorded in the subtitles as "you muppet" but the word "muppet" - meaning an idiot - was not in use when the film was made. See more »


[first lines]
Colin Smith: Running was always a big thing in our family, specially running away from the police. It's hard to understand. All I know is that you've got to run, running without knowing why, through fields and woods. And the winning post's no end, even though the barmy crowds might be cheering themselves daft. That's what the loneliness of a long distance runner feels like.
See more »


Referenced in House M.D.: Don't Ever Change (2008) See more »


Music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (uncredited)
Lyrics by William Blake (uncredited)
Sung by the lads in the audience at the close of the concert scene
Several instrumental variations of the melody are heard throughout the soundtrack
See more »

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User Reviews

Absolutely fantastic!
12 June 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This film... is amazing. This is the only way that I can POSSIBLY describe the brilliant acting performance of Tom Courtenay, one of my all-time favorite actors. His depiction of Colin, a young man from the lower class society of Nottingham, is remarkable. In fact, depiction is quite the wrong word for what he does with that character. Courtenay does not play Colin, he IS Colin, pure and simple. I will not give a summary simply because it is impossible to explain the story line without seeing the film. I have tried to explain the story line to my friends, and they just can't understand why I'm raving about. Anyone who is reading this, WATCH THIS MOVIE! It is one of the best films the '60s has to offer.

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